Hiding Behind the Hypothetical: The Unjustifiability of Torture

Richard Corrigan

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


In this paper I argue that interrogational torture is never morally justifiable. I highlight the many flaws inherent in using ‘ticking-bomb’ scenarios to justify the legalisation of torture in ‘exceptional’ circumstances. I argue that the damage that would be done to the ethical foundations of the state and the sanctity of the person should be sufficient to deter us from assuming that torture is ever morally permissible, or should be officially sanctioned. I further contend that the traditional scenarios used to justify arguments for the moral acceptability of torture suffer from the dual deficiency of abstraction and idealisation, and that lesser evil arguments are not sufficiently convincing when viewed in the light of the greater consequences of legalising brutality.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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